They say women forget the pain of childbirth pretty darned quickly, otherwise no-one would be insane enough to go through it again. Except for masochists.
Well there is an equivalent for dads. OK, it’s not quite in the same league as pushing a melon out through a keyhole, but it still qualifies in terms of Sentimental Memory Loss Syndrome.
It pertains to the issue of Having Another, as in the question I am often asked: ‘So, are you guys going to have any more kids? Would you like one?’
Now as the oldest of four boys and the father of two sons, I’ve always fancied having a daughter. Yes, I have a 10 year-old stepdaughter, but she is Very Much Not Mine. She has her own dad. She likes it that way; he likes it that way; and I Very Much Like It That Way.
But a daughter of my own? That’s a different question. The answer, even at the knackered and groaning age of 48, is often ‘Yes’, depending on how much I’ve had to drink when the question is occasionally curve-balled my way.
Sobriety soon dissuades me of this fantasy, for the simple reason that I know Mother Nature doesn’t let you pick and choose (though I read an appalling report last week that some doctors actually terminate girls on request in one part of the UK).
Anyway, I’d quite like a daughter, yes. And actually, depending on what mood I’m in, I wouldn’t even say No to another boy for the simple reason that mine aren’t babies any more and I actually really, really liked them when they were.
Oh how the mind plays tricks on you!
On Saturday, I had a short and very sweet – but ultimately utterly exhausting – dose of reality of what having a very little ‘un around is like.
I guess I’d never truly experienced it before because when my lot were babies, I was at work. I never got to see the havoc a Motivated Mini can wreak on an adult life. But I experienced it yesterday.
My stepdaughter’s dad came over to ours to collect the Light of His Life and with him he brought his one year-old son (my stepdaughter’s youngest, baby brother – pay attention at the back!)
‘Why don’t you take Daisy out for an hour? I’ll look after Freddie,’ I suggested.
The last time I saw a man move that fast was when Usain Bolt broke the 100m record. Out the door he shot, leaving me and my two sons literally holding the baby. He stepdaughter’s real dad’s baby!
Except he wouldn’t be ‘held’. The boy is a force of nature. He’s just learned to walk, he’s just learned to bark commands, he’s just learned to ignore any and every instruction that involves the word ‘No’. And like a pocket-sized Ranulph Fiennes, he was off to explore this strange new world he’d been dropped into.
The stairs were his first mountain to conquer, then the bedrooms, then every thing that wasn’t nailed down in the bedrooms, then the kitchen, then the vegetable rack, then the plug sockets.
My lads tried to herd him like Collies around sheep, but it was to no avail. Little Freddie wanted to see and know and touch and taste everything.
It was wonderful to see how caring my sons were to this strange, super-motivated little rugrat creature who was carefully deconstructing the carefully deconstructed world they’d built for themselves.
But for all the situation’s Aww Factor, I had never felt so on edge. Partly because he wasn’t ‘mine’ (Heaven forbid anything happen to him on MY watch) but mainly because I’d forgotten how child-safe our flat used to be when ours were as little as Fred – and how utterly unsuitable and DANGEROUS it was to a just-walking-semi-crawling one year-old.
So when his dad and sister turned up, I handed him back quicker than the Jamaicans pass the baton in a relay race.
Would I have another baby?
Nah, nope, not on your Nelly. I’ve done my bit.